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APPG report lays bare “disastrous impact” of VI-1s

Published:  22 September, 2020

A new report from a committee of MPs into the impact of VI-1 wine import certificates has warned that the red tape will cause chaos and price hikes.

In the report, published today by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Wine and Spirits (APPG), UK wine companies spell out the cost to consumer and businesses of a series of new inspections and paperwork proposed – voluntarily – by the UK government, and which will be required for wine imported from the EU from 1 January 2021. 

If government refuses to scrap plans to introduce VI-1s and lab tests, experts warn that businesses could fold or be forced to relocate outside the UK.

They also warn that job losses are inevitable, and that the Treasury will lose tax revenue. 

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said the report laid bare “the disastrous impact these costly and unnecessary tests and paperwork” would have on British business and the UK’s 33 million wine consumers.    

“Sadly Defra Ministers are stubbornly ploughing ahead with the introduction of costly VI-1 certification for EU wines, meaning that at the end of the year wine drinkers will be facing price hikes and inevitably find that some of their favourite European wines will vanish from the shelves.   

“It’s madness! More than half our wine comes from Europe. Instead of choosing to suspend and reduce red tape and costs for wine, ministers have elected to apply additional burden and some £100m in costs for UK businesses and consumers. And with no idea where the lab testing capacity will come from,” he said.    

Deal or no deal – it was “within government’s gift” to reverse this decision, he added. 

In the report, Direct Wines stated that the introduction of VI-1’s would “be chaos” for all those companies buying and selling European wines which are unfamiliar with VI-1s and lab tests. 

Fine wine merchants  have told MPs it will be impossible for them to meet the testing requirements – which would mean opening and thereby ruining expensive bottles of wine – and remain competitive, which will inevitably result in businesses having to relocate from the UK  to avoid using the forms.  

As well as the huge cost to wine businesses – estimated to be over £70m a year – there will be a big reduction in range and choice, the report stated.  

An independent merchant said: “UK customers have become accustomed to being able to buy the food and drink they like, from all over the world. If they are suddenly unable to buy major brands from Bordeaux, Champagne, Rioja, Prosecco, I think they are going to be very unhappy”. 

Other wine businesses stressed that this was opportunity for government to “move forward rather than take a step back”.  

The report concluded that the introduction of import certificates for  EU  wine, something that isn’t required of any other category of alcoholic drink, will add further time and costs, which will ultimately fall to the consumer, with no demonstrable  benefit.